What we learned: Patchwork lineup and late collapse lead to bad OT loss
Not a good night in the Hub of Hockey.
Saturday night alright, alright – but not for the Boston Bruins state of medical affairs. Out of action and far from all right for the B’s-Sabres game included Ryan Spooner, Adam McQuaid, David Krejci, Tuukka Rask, Kevan Miller. Enough alright.
One big positive Thursday the return of Patrice Bergeron and his No. 1 star of the game with four points in a 6-3 win over Vancouver. One negative a broken foot for McQuaid and eight weeks on the shelf along with an upper-body day-to-day injury to Krejci, the only Bruin to play all 82 games last season.
Not to mention being down two defensemen in Miller and McQuaid. Up from Providence to fill those holes, Rob O’Gara for his first NHL game this year and fourth of his career. And Paul Postma, making his first start in Boston since GM Don Sweeney signed the journeyman to a free-agent contract over the summer after putting up 14 points in 65 games last season in Winnipeg.
Back in goal, Anton Khudobin at 2-0-0 and a 2.16 GAA. The Bruins swept the season series vs. Buffalo last year, outscoring the Sabres 13-4 over the four games. They are 10-1-1 in their last 12 games overall against the not-so-all-right Sabres at 1-5-2.
Your trivia question of the night? Which two Bruins in Saturday’s lineup teamed to win an NCAA championship? That would be O’Gara and Kenny Agostino at Yale in 2013.
Here’s what we learned as the Black and Gold’s meltdown ended in a 5-4 OT loss.
Pasta bats B’s to a lead as PP continues to roll
Thursday night, David Pastrnak scored what might become a top-5 highlight-reel goal of the year when his end-to-end dash lifted the Causeway Street faithful out of their seats. Saturday night, the exact opposite when he and Tim Schaller – filling in for Krejci on the second line – played bat the puck in Robin Lehner’s crease with Pastrnak scoring his fifth of the season at 13:15; Charlie McAvoy also assisting with Schaller. Postma and O’Gara on that scoring shift.
At 15:05, Brad Marchand upped the score to 2-0 with an unassisted power play tally. Against the Canucks, the Bruins finished 4-for-8 on the powerplay; 9-for-28 on the season after Marchand’s goal, fourth in the NHL.
B’s second verse same as the first
If Pastrnak’s first-period goal was opposite of Thursday’s, Marchand’s second of the game and a team-leading sixth just 37 ticks into the second period was a carbon-copy of his first goal, a right-dot wrister, and the same place he scored against Vancouver; Anders Bjork and McAvoy assisting.
Jason Pominville, back in Buffalo where he played nine seasons before the last five in Minnesota, also found pay dirt from that right faceoff circle with a laser at 8:01 to cut the Buffalo deficit to 3-1.
But Pastrnak would pull even with Marchand with six goals apiece at 11:22 when he pulled up 10 feet from Lehner and slow rolled a changeup to a 4-1 lead; Riley Nash and Torey Krug assisting. It was Nash’s 100th NHL point.
And it appeared two points were in the bag.
But Buffalo’s franchise player – and former BU sensation – Jack Eichel scored his fourth of the season and 11th point at 16:07 to seesaw the game back to a two-goal affair.
Third-period nail-biting collapse leads to OT loss
Former Bruin Benoit Pouliot knotted his first of the season at 6:55 to put the game on anxious mode at 4-3.
“I think as it went along, you could see that it’s just hard to reel it back in for whatever reason,” Bruce Cassidy said postgame. “We weren’t able to temper it, just settle it down and string together string together three or four shifts to sort of get through that. So it gives the other team life and it becomes a vicious cycle.”
Brandon Carlo did little to keep the nail biters from skin when he took two for interference with four minutes left. And even less when Evander Kane rolled the equalizer by Khudobin as the penalty expired at 17:58.
“That’s where the appreciation comes in for the Kevan Miller’s and the Adam McQuaid’s of the world,” Cassidy said about the turning point of the game. “They’re not always flashy, but in those instances, they’re money. They get it done.”
Khudobin played lights out in OT – but it was a Ryan O’Reilly goal that survived a goaltender interference call to put the TD Garden lights out at 2:59.
“He battles,” Cassidy said about his backup goalie. “We love that about him. He battled to the end. Certainly made his share of saves.
“They made the call,” Cassidy said about the play of the game. “You know how those go. I lost, so I disagree with it. They won, so I’m sure they’re going to agree with it. They are tough calls, sometimes they go your way, sometimes they don’t.”
Saturday night most things went the Bruins’ way for two periods.
“They were hungrier than us,” Cassidy said. “Late, they won more pucks.”
And two points.